Every week, I help compile a short mail out of interesting stories for the Open Society Institute’s Information Program, which aims to update their colleagues in the Soros network and friends further afield about the news, opinions and events the Program team have their eye on. Since the mailout is released Creative Commons, and usually contains a really excellent spectrum of information society issues, I’m going to start sharing the links on this blog. Here’s the first issue:
Why is there resistance to prize funds?
Prize funds are mechanisms for stimulating innovation. In healthcare, prize funds present an attractive alternative to patent-based mechanisms, and can be particularly useful in stimulating research around treatments for neglected diseases. Here, Jamie Love of Knowledge Ecology International tracks the history of prize funds, and examines why they still encounter such resistance from commercial organisations.
The death of fixed lines in Africa
Steve Song challenges the notion that Africa’s future communication infrastructure will be 100% mobile, and offers three reasons why fixed line communication should be viewed as a complementary technology with its own role to play.
The Partisan Internet and the Wider World
Is the internet making us ideologically isolated? Ethan Zuckerman dissects a recent study of how the internet affects our political views and associations, providing a good summary of the various arguments around this question so far, and raising some interesting questions about the most current research.
Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace
This new book from MIT Press, which features chapters from academics and practitioners associated with the Open Net Initiative, examines the state of privacy and free expression online, and the trends that got us here. Part II contains a series of informative regional profiles.
Deploying Ushahidi – Allocation of Time
Ushahidi community member Chris Blow shares his experiences of deploying Ushahidi, and reveals where Ushahidi-based projects most often fail.
Diasporas: A new sort of togetherness
This Economist feature posits that diasporas are being revived by social media.
The web’s first Cyrillic top level domain
This month, the first Cyrillic top level domain “.рф” (“.rf”) came online. This article examines take-up of the new domain, and questions whether this introduction of Cyrillic threatens the internet as a global and open space.
Facebook responds to privacy outcry
Facebook has announced a new simplified approach to user privacy, following growing concerns that the company was misusing personal data by making it harder to opt out of commercial data-sharing schemes. The new arrangement will provide users with a single page from which they can control all their privacy settings.
Tajikistan: President moves to ban cell-phones
President Rahmon of Tajikistan has “declared war” on mobile phones, citing dangers to health they are alleged to pose, and complaining that the revenues of Tajikistan’s burgeoning telecommunications sector are difficult to track. One source quoted in this report suspects that the revolution in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan might also have something to do with the move.
East African Community countries to register all SIM cards
The East Africa Communications Organisations (EACO) has agreed to register all mobile phone SIM cards across the region by June 2012. A representative from the Uganda Communications Commission said “The decision to register SIM cards was reached at for security purposes and for protection of our consumers,” claiming that registering SIM cards would stop anonymous, abusive phonecalls.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Claim “Iranian Cyber Army”
A spokesperson for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has claimed that the “Iranian Cyber Army”, a group of hackers implicated in attacks on Twitter, Baidu and reformist Iranian web targets, “looks to” the Revolutionary Guard for direction.